This new Act resulted in the formation of the Alberta Optometric Association that was a joint organization of an association and a separate (regulatory) Board of Examiners. It also laid the framework for holding yearly Annual General Meetings, terms of office for council and a process for discipline. The annual fees could not be more than $20. On top of this were registration fees of $15 for the certificate and $2 for a copy of their certificate. Most optometrists in this era were jewelers or druggists and were not allowed to use the title “Doctor”. The first female optometrist was Dr. Boyle (who was also a chiropractor). The association tried to establish a 2-year optometry course at the University of Alberta; however, this endeavor failed due to a lack of funding and available instrumentation. The next few years were busy in terms of getting all optometrists to register with the newly formed Association, getting rid of illegal and incompetent practitioners and ensuring that all practitioners met a minimum competency standard and abided by the Code of Ethics.
Educational sessions were started by the Association in the mid-1920’s to enhance and maintain the educational and clinical qualifications of practitioners.
Optometry was excluded from a provincial Health Act that allowed districts to be formed for the purpose of availing themselves the advantage of the new Provincial Medicine Act. A formal protest to the provincial government to amend this Act to include the profession of optometry was not successful.
The revamped Optometry Bylaws were approved by the government.
The Canadian Journal of Optometry debuted. The cost was $2 for a yearly subscription.
The Edmonton Society of Optometrists was formed as a study group and the Association also hired its first legal counsel. Also, for the first time, wives were allowed to attend the Annual General Meeting banquet. The Association also registered with the International Association of Boards of Examiners in Optometry.
The Canadian Association of Optometrists (CAO) was formed. However, it took until 1948 before the CAO was incorporated with a formal Act and Bylaws.
The first part-time secretary was hired by the Association and worked out of the President’s private office.
Optometrists were the first practitioners in the province to fit rigid contact lenses in their private offices made from a material called polymethylmethacrylate.
Rural optometrists were paid by the provincial government for refractions on seniors; however, urban practitioners had to have a signed medical certificate by a physician in order to be paid by the government for the same service.
On July 01, the new Optometry Act was proclaimed. The big changes were that the Association’s Board of Examiners was to be “divorced” from the University of Alberta, optometry would be allowed to be practiced in department stores and that the government would take over the annual licensing of practitioners.
On January 12, The new College of Optometry at the University of Toronto opened with a 3-year professional program that granted students with a R.O. (Registered Optometrist) degree upon successful completion.
The Alberta government finally passed legislation that required a visual exam to be performed before a driver’s license would be issued.
The Optometry Act was amended to allow optometrists to use the title Doctor.
The first ophthalmologist that was booked to present a lecture to the optometrists at their Annual Continuing Education Conference had to withdraw from the program when his attendance was subsequently refused by the AMA, CMA and the provincial ophthalmological society.
Optometric services were included in the Albert Government Health Plan and the Association introduced mandatory continuing education.
Also in 1967, the College of Optometry moved from the University of Toronto to the University of Waterloo and granted the Doctor of Optometry (O.D.) degree to its graduates.
The federal government excluded optometry from its compulsory Federal Medicare Plan.
Optometrists were the first practitioners in the province to fit the new soft contact lenses developed earlier that year by Bausch & Lomb. In addition, the Alberta Optometry Act and Bylaws were amended to prohibit an optometrist from being held liable for giving an unfavorable driver’s license report to the Department of Motor Vehicles.
In September the first official AOA office was opened and staffed by a full-time secretary and part-time Executive Director. Before this, the AOA office was always operated from the private optometry practice of the President.